Book and eBook by
Gary F. Zeolla,
the Director of Darkness to Light ministry
This book contains forty individual “Scripture Studies.” Volume I covers the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. It is these doctrines that separate the true Christian faith from cultic and other deviations. Volume II of this book then covers controversial theologies, cults, and ethics.
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This book contains forty individual “Scripture Studies.” Each study focuses on one general area of study. These studies enable individuals or groups to do in-depth, topical studies of the Bible. They are also invaluable to the Bible study teacher in preparing lessons.
For this Second Edition, all of the studies have been reviewed and expanded. The number of studies have been almost doubled, so there is even more material for the student of the Bible to study.
This book is divided into two major Parts. Part I covers the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. It is these doctrines that separate the true Christian faith from cultic and other deviations. Included here are studies on such essential doctrines as the authority and reliability of the Scriptures, the attributes of God, the Trinity, and forgiveness and salvation.
The format for most of these doctrines is to first present the Scriptural evidence for the author’s conservative (or evangelical) viewpoint in one or more studies. Then in the following study, “opposing viewpoints” are presented. These would be views of cultists and others who disagree with the evangelical view, with the evidence they claim for their views. Then rebuttals to these opposing viewpoints are given.
Part II of this book then covers controversial theologies, cults, and ethics. Included here are studies on Catholicism, Calvinism, baptism, end-time prophecy, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, sexual issues, church issues, and many more topics.
These are areas on which there is often disagreement among Christians. In such cases, the same format as for Volume I is followed: the author’s viewpoint is presented first, then opposing viewpoints, with rebuttals thereof. For the record, the author ascribes to a Reformed-Baptist perspective on theological issues and is conservative on ethical issues.
So the range of topics covered in the different studies is broad. Included in each study are hundreds of Scripture references. So there will be no lack of material from which to begin your studies.
An extensive list of resources consulted in developing these studies is included in an appendix. These resources can then be pursued if the reader wishes to study a subject in even more depth.
Note to Users of SWB1
If you currently own a copy of the First Edition of the author’s Scripture Workbook (SWB1), you are probably wondering if it would be worthwhile to get this Second Edition (SWB2). The details are as follows: SWB1 consisted of 22 Scripture Studies, covering 205 pages, while this new edition contains 40 Scripture Studies and 505 pages.
In addition, SWB1 utilized Arial 11 print and rather wide margins, while SWB2 uses Times New Roman 11 and smaller margins. Times print is smaller than Arial, so the amount of material is over 2-1/2 times in SWB2 versus what it was in SWB1.
Note also that Times 11 is still very easy to read; in fact it is probably easier to read than Arial print, hence why it is used this time. And there is still plenty of room for users to write their own notes, as this is a “workbook” after all, but the amount of empty space is not excessive.
Table of Contents
Preface - 7
Abbreviations - 9
Notes on this Book - 11
Essentials of “the Faith” … 13
The Scriptures … 15
#1 – The Authority of the Scriptures - 17
#2 – The Use of the OT in the NT - 27
#3 – The Reliability of the Scriptures - 43
#4 – Alleged Contradictions in the Scriptures - 59
#5 – Resurrection to Ascension Harmony - 73
#6 – Troublesome Things in the Scriptures - 79
The Nature of God and the Trinity … 91
#7 – The Attributes of God - 93
#8 – Opposing Viewpoints on the Nature of God - 107
#9 – The Doctrine of the Trinity - 111
#10 – More on the Trinity - 123
#11 – Opposing Viewpoints on the Trinity - 129
Person, Life, and Work of Jesus Christ … 149
#12 – The Person and Life of Jesus Christ - 151
#13 – Opposing Viewpoints about Jesus Christ - 159
#14 – Forgiveness and Salvation - 165
#15 – Opposing Viewpoints on Salvation - 173
Additional Essential Doctrines … 185
#16 – The Afterlife and Eternity - 187
#17 – Opposing Viewpoints on Afterlife & Eternity - 195
#18 – Angels and Demons - 205
#19 – Opposing Viewpoints on Angels & Demons - 215
#20 – Teaching and Defending “The Faith” - 221
Cultic Doctrines, and Ethics … 227
Calvinism versus Arminianism … 229
#21 – The Sovereignty of God - 231
#22 – The Five Points of Calvinism - 241
#23 – Opposing Viewpoints on the Five Points - 245
Various Controversial Theologies … 253
#24 – Questions on Baptism - 255
#25 – Catholicism vs. Protestantism - 265
#26 – Mary, the Mother of Jesus - 285
#27 – The Charismata (Spiritual Gifts): Part One - 299
#28 – The Charismata (Spiritual Gifts): Part Two - 321
#29 – The Seventh-day Sabbath - 341
#30 – End-Time Prophecy - 349
#31 – Human Nature - 365
Cultic and Aberrant
Doctrines and Practices … 377
#32 – Questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses - 379
#33 – Unique Teachings of Mormonism - 387
#34 – Miscellaneous Cultic and Aberrant Teachings - 399
Ethics and the Christian Life … 421
#35 – Sexual Relationships Issues - 423
#36 – Divorce and Remarriage - 437
#37 – Capital Punishment - 441
#38 – Christians and the Government - 447
#39 – Church Issues - 453
#40 – Miscellaneous Questions - 471
Appendixes … 481
#1 – Essentials of “The Faith” - 483
#2 – Darkness to Light's Confession of Faith - 485
#3 – Bibliography - 487
#4 – Additional Books by the Author - 499
#5 – Author’s Web Sites, Newsletters and Social Sites/
Contacting the Author - 503
The Authority of the Scriptures
Scripture Study #1
The Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired Word of God, without error in the original manuscripts, the complete revelation of His will for our salvation and the Divine and final authority for all Christian faith and life (Article #1 on Darkness to Light’s Confession of Faith).
1) The Scripture writers claim to be presenting the very Words of God:
OT: Gen 15:1; Exod 20:1; Numb 1:1; 2Sam 23:2; Isa 6:1-8; Jer 1:1-9; 2:1; 13:1-8; 49:34f; Ezek 1:1-3; 3:16; 38:1; Dan 9:2 (cp. Jer 25:11f); Hos 1:1; 4:1; Joel 1:1; Amos 7:14-17; Jonah 1:1; 3:1-3; Obad 1:1; Micah 1:1; Zeph 1:1; Hag 1:1; 2:1; Zech 1:1-7; 4:6-8.
NT: Matt 5:17f; 15:3-6; 22:29-32,42-45; Acts 3:21; 4:31; 1Thes 2:13; 4:8; Heb 1:1; 2Tim 3:16f; 1Pet 1:25; 2Pet 1:20f; Rev 1:1-3,19; 2:1; 3:22.
NOTE: It is true that the Biblical writers claiming to be speaking for God does not prove that they were doing so. However, if someone claims to be speaking for God, or even more so if they claim they have heard the voice of God or seen a vision, then there are only three possibilities: The person is telling the truth; the person is lying, or the person is hallucinating and thus is mentally disturbed.
For example, when Isaiah records his vision of the Lord in the sixth chapter of his book, either that event happened, or he made it up, or he was hallucinating. So a decision must be made: do the writings of Isaiah read like those of an honest person, a liar, or a lunatic?
The point is, either the Bible is what it claims to be, the very Word of God, or it is a complete fraud. There is no middle ground. It cannot be said the Bible is a “good book” but not the Word of God.
It should also be noted, the NT writers attribute OT words to God even if they are not specifically ascribed to God in the OT. This shows that all of Scripture is the Word of God:
OT words ascribed to God:
Matt 19:4-6 quoting Gen 1:27; 2:24/ Acts 4:24-26 quoting Psalm 21:1f/ Acts 13:35 quoting Psalm 16:10/ Heb 1:6 quoting Deut 32:43 and Psalm 97:7 (both from the LXX)/ Heb 1:7 quoting Psalm 104:4.
9) Common Sayings and Terms from the Scriptures:Many sayings and terms commonly heard in the United States today have their roots in the Scriptures. This shows what a profound affect the Scriptures are still having on the USA, even though the population is now largely Biblically illiterate. The wording of some of these come specifically from the KJV.
1. Adam’s Rib (1949 movie with Katherine Hepburn
and a name for a restaurant) – Gen 2:21f
2. East of Eden (1952 novel by John Steinbeck) – Gen 3:24
3. “My brother’s keeper” – Gen 4:9
4. “As old as Methuselah” – Gen 5:27
5. “Don’t miss the boat” – Gen 7:1ff
6. “Sank like lead” – Exod 15:10
7. “Written in stone”– Exod 31:18
8. “He was made a scapegoat” – Lev 16:20-22
9. “Two turtledoves” (the gift “on the second day of Christmas”) – Lev 12:8; Luke 2:24
10. “Love your neighbor as yourself” – Lev 19:18; Matt 5:43; 19:19; Mark 12:31; Gal 5:14
11. “Thorn in your side” – Numb 33:55; Judg 2:3
12. “Do not turn to the right hand or to the left” – Deut 17:11; 2Sam 14:19
Note: A total of 79 “sayings are presented and a total of ten sections on The Authority of the Scriptures.
The Use of the OT in the NT
Scripture Study #2The NT authors quoted extensively from the OT. The abundance of quotes shows how very much they respected the OT Scriptures. Moreover, the manner in which they quoted the OT shows they considered the OT to be God-breathed and to be absolutely authoritative in all matters of faith and practice. This Scripture Study lists all of the references for these quotes. …
Verses marked with an asterisk are not direct quotations but allusions to the OT. These are often references to OT historical events. They show the NT writers considered these accounts to be actual history, not legends or myths.
The NT verse is given first, then the OT verse.
1) 1:23 / Isaiah 7:14
2) 2:6 / Micah 5:2
3) 2:17 / Hosea 11:1, Heb.
4) 3:3 / Isaiah 40:3, LXX
5) 4:4 / Deut 8:3, LXX
6) 4:6 / Psalm 91:11f
7) 4:7 / Deut 6:16
8) 4:10 / Deut 6:13
9) 4:15f / Isaiah 9:1f
10) 5:5 / Psalm 37:11
11) 5:21 / Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17
12) 5:27 / Exod 20:14; Deut 5:18
13) 5:31 / Deut 24:1,3
14) 5:33 / Lev 19:12; Numb 30:2
Note: A total of 458 quotations and allusions are presented.
The Reliability of the Scriptures
Scripture Study #3
The Scriptures can be shown to be reliable in many different ways.
2) The Consistency of the Scriptures:
a. The OT and the NT:Some claim the OT contradicts the NT. But the references in SS#1 demonstrated the consistency of the two Testaments in their teachings about themselves. SS#2 showed much of the NT is directly based on the OT. Other Scripture Studies in this book demonstrate the consistency of the two Testaments on many other topics.
b. Parallels Between Jesus’ and Paul’s Teachings:Some claim Paul taught a different message than Jesus preached. The following parallels between their teachings show otherwise.
1) Matt 5:28-30 / Col 3:5
2) Matt 5:40 / 1Cor 6:7
3) Matt 5:43f / Rom 12:19-21
4) Matt 7:1-5 / Rom 2:1
5) Matt 7:12 / Eph 5:14
6) Matt 10:10 / 1Cor 9:14
7) Matt 10:16 / Eph 5:15f
8) Matt 10:33 / 2Tim 2:12
9) Matt 15:3-9 / Col 2:8
10) Matt 19:8f / 1Cor 7:10-12
11) Matt 19:23f / 1Tim 6:6-10
12) Matt 20:18f; 26:28 / 1Cor 15:3f
13) Matt 20:28 / Phil 2:6-8; Rom 5:8-10,15
14) Matt 22:21 / Rom 13:7
15) Matt 24:29-31 / 1Thes 4:13-17
16) Matt 24:36-44 / 1Thes 5:1-3
Note: A total of 40 parallels are listed. Also presented is a list of 34 parallels between Peter’s and Paul’s teachings.
4) The Historical Reliability of the Scriptures:Many archeological discoveries have verified the basic history and historical background of the Bible. Below is a sampling of this archeological evidence.
Ur of the Chaldees:
Gen 11:28,31; 15:7; Neh 9:7.
The Bible says that Abraham originally lived in Ur of the Chaldees. This ancient city was discovered and is now known to have been the capital city of the Sumerians, one of the oldest civilizations in ancient Mesopotamia.
The Cities of the Plain:
The Bible states there were five cities in the plains of the Salt Sea (a.k.a., the Dead Sea): Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela (a.k.a. Zoar). God destroyed Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim when He “rained down fire and brimstone” on the cities (Gen 19:24; Deut 29:23), but Zoar was spared, since that is where Lot and his daughters fled to (Gen 19:22f,30).
Archeological excavations have shown there were in fact five cities in this plain during the early Bronze Age (third millennium B.C.), but they were abandoned, and the area was not resettled until the Romans occupied the land some 2,000 years later. The city believed to be Sodom has evidence of having been destroyed by fire.
This episode is significant as throughout Scripture, Sodom and Gomorrah are used as examples of wickedness and their destruction as an example of God’s judgment upon such wickedness:
OT: Deut 32:32; Isaiah 1:9f; 3:9; 13:19, Jer 23:14; 49:18; 50:40; Lam 4:6; Ezek 14:46-56; Amos 4:11; Zeph 2:9;
NT: Matt 10:15; 11:23f; Mark 6:11; Rom 9:29; 2 Peter 2:6; Jude 1:7; Rev 11:8.
Note: A dozen more archeological examples are given and a total of six sections on The Reliability of the Scriptures..
Alleged Contradictions in the Scriptures
Scripture Study #4
Those who are opposed to a belief in the authority and reliability of the Scriptures believe the Scriptures are full of contradictions. To support this idea, there are many lists of alleged contradictions in the Scriptures floating around the Internet and elsewhere. But a careful examination of these supposed contradictions shows they are not really contradictory after all. Some of the supposed contradictions are even just plain silly. But they are included in such lists to make them as long as possible to try to make it look like the Scriptures are “hopelessly contradictory.” …
Genesis 1:1-28; 2:4-22:
There are many contradictions between these two creation accounts. In the first, trees, birds and animals were created before humans. In the second, human beings was created first, then the trees, birds, and animals. Also, in the first, man and woman are created at the same time, but in the second, man was created first, then the woman later.
BUT: Genesis One is recording the creation of “the heavens and the earth” (v.1). Genesis two is recording the creation of the Garden of Eden (v.8). As such, the two cannot be contradicting each other as they are discussing different events.
More specifically, Genesis one is recording the creation of plant and animal life in general; Genesis two is recording the creation of the plant and animal life in the Garden of Eden.
Moreover, in Genesis one, man and women are presented as being created at the same time by the literary device of “telescoping.” This term refers to looking at the events from far away. Just as two mountaintops look as if they are almost touching from a distance, events separated by time appear as if they are together when viewed from a distant, as this literary device does. But when looked at closer, the distances between the mountaintops can be seen. In the same way, when looked at closer, the events that occurred in between the creation of the man and of the woman can be seen.
Note: Two dozen more supposed contradictions are addressed.
The Attributes of God
Scripture Study #7
There is one, and only one, true God: Creator and Sustainer of all things, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Self-existent, Immutable, Spirit, Incomprehensible, Eternal, Sovereign and Master of the universe, infinitely perfect in love, goodness, holiness, and justice (Article #2 on Darkness to Light’s Confession of Faith).
1) Personal:God is a self-conscious Being capable of thought, will (volition), and interaction with others.
OT: Gen 1:1-31; 2:16-22; 3:9-19; 6:5-8; 7:1-4; 8:15-17; 9:1-17; 12:1-3; 26:2-5,24; Exod 3:4-2; 20:1-17; Josh 1:19; Judg 1:1f; 1Sam 2:27-36; 16:1-13; 1Kings 3:5-14; 9:1-9; 2Chr 15:2; Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; 12:13-25; 38:1-41:34; Ps 2:4-9; 3:3f; 5:4-6; Prov 3:19f; Isa 6:1-13; 55:8-11; Jer 1:4-10; Ezek 1:28-2:14; Dan 1:20-23; Jonah 1:1f; 3:1f; 4:1-11.
NT: Matt 2:19-f; 3:16f; 6:1-18,31f; John 12:27f; 17:3; Acts 4:24-31; 5:4; 10:9-16; 14:3; 19:11f; Rom 1:1f;9f;16-28; 16:25-27; 1Cor 2:16; 7:17; 12:28; 14:2; 2Cor 1:3f; 6:1f; 13:14; Eph 1:3-5; Col 1:1,27; 1Thes 1:4; 4:3,7; 5:18; 2Tim 1:1; Heb 1:1f; 2:4 11:6,16; 13:21; Jam 1:5; 4:6; 1Pet 3:17; 4:18; 2Pet 1:17; 2:4-9; 1John 1:6; 4:7-11,16; Jude 1:25; Rev 4:11; 21:3-7.
2) Creator:The earth, sun, moon, stars, and the rest of the universe came into existence through the will and power of God. Included in this attribute is the idea that God is distinct from His creation. He is the Creator, we and all that exists are His creation.
OT: Gen 1:1-10,14-18; 2:4; Exod 20:11; 31:17; Deut 4:19; 1Sam 2:8; 2Kings 19:15; 1Chr 29:14; Neh 9:5f; Job 9:8f; 26:7-13; 38:4; Ps 8:3; 19:1; 24:1f; 33:6-9; 89:11f; 100:3; 102:25-27; 104:5-9; 119:73; 146:6; 148:1-6; Isa 37:16; 40:22-28; 42:5; 4:24; 45:18; 51:13; 66;1f; Jer 10:12f,16; 31:35; 32:17; Zech 12:1.
NT: Acts 4:24; 14:15; 17:24; Rom 1:20; 11:36; 1Cor 10:26; Heb 1:10; 11:3; 2Pet 3:5; Rev 4:11; 14:7.
Note: A total of 32 attributes are presented.
Opposing Viewpoints on the Nature of God
Scripture Study #8
1) God is finite (not omnipresent):This is the viewpoint of Mormonism and of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Gen 4:16; 2Ki 13:20; Jer 23:39; 52:3. It is possible to go out from or be cast from the presence of the LORD.
1Ki 8:39; Ps 33:13f; Matt 6:9: God is in heaven.
These verses show God can only be in one place at one time.
BUT: In 1Kings 8, in addition to saying God’s dwelling place is in heaven (v.39), Solomon also says God will dwell in the temple he had just built on earth (v.13).
The Bible also says the LORD is “the God of heaven and the God of the earth” (Gen 24:3) and is “God in heaven above and on the earth beneath” (Deut 4:39; Josh 2:11). The Bible also declares, “LORD God of Israel, there is no God in heaven or on earth like You” (2Chr 6:14). So the LORD is in heaven and on earth at the same time.
Elsewhere, the Bible declares God dwells:
1) “among the children of Israel” – Exod 29:45f
2) “between the cherubim” (that were on the Ark of the Covenant) – Numb 7:89; 1Sam 4:4; Ps 80:1; 99:1; Isa 37:16
3) “in Zion” (or “Mount Zion”) – Ps 9:11; 69:35; Isa 8:18; Joel 3:17,21
4) in His house (i.e., the temple) – Ps 26:8
5) “on the mountains of Bashan” – Ps 68:15-18
6) “on high” – Ps 113:5; Isa 33:5
7) “in Jerusalem” – Ps 135:21; Ezra 7:15
8) “in the high and holy place” – Isa 57:15
9) among His people – Ezek 37:27; 2Cor 6:16; Rev 21:3
10) within each Christian believer – Rom 8:9; 1Cor 3:16
11) within the Church – Eph 2:22
In fact, Solomon declared, “heaven and the heaven of the heavens cannot contain” God (1Ki 8:27; 2Chr 6:18). The point is that God fills “heaven and earth” meaning the entire universe (Jer 23:24).
When the Bible declares God “dwells” somewhere it is not restricting Him to that place. It is proclaiming God is MANIFESTING Himself at that time in that place. The spiritual world is always present, but we do not always see it unless allowed to by God (Exod 40:34; Numb 22:31; 1Ki 8:10f; 2Ki 6:15-17; Luke 2:13f; Acts 7:55f; Rev 4:2-5).
When the Bible says Cain “went out from the presence of the Lord” it is simply referring to Cain leaving the area where God revealed Himself to Cain. When it says people are cast out from the LORD’s presence, it refers to them no longer being able to experience His love and protection.
Note: Four additional opposing viewpoints are addressed.
Angels and Demons
Scripture Study #18
In the existence of angels and Satan and his demons. Angels are personal, spirit beings in the service of God. Satan and his demons are personal, spirit beings who are in rebellion against God, His angels, and His people. Their fate of eternal damnation was sealed by Christ at the cross, and authority over them and their activities has been granted to all believers (Article #10 on Darkness to Light’s Confession of Faith).
Note: Five sections on Angels are presented.
Satan and Demons
4) Activities of Satan and his demons:
Exalts himself above God and oppose God's purposes:
Gen 3:1-5; Deut 32:15-18; 2Chr 11:13-15; Isa 14:14; Zech 3:1f; Matt 4:1-11; 13:39; 16:21-23; Mark 4:14f; Luke 22:1-6,31f; John 13:2,21-30; 1Cor 10:20f; 2Cor 11:14; 1Tim 4:1-5; 2Thes 2:3-10; James 3:13-17; Rev 9:20; 12:7-17; 16:13f.
Oppresses and ensnares people:
Job 1:8-19; 2:3-8; 1Chr 21:1; Matt 8:28-32; 9:32f; 12:12; 17:14-18; Mark 5:1-13; Luke 8:11f,26-33; 9:37-42; 11:14; 13:10-17; 2Cor 4:3f; Gal 3:1-3; 1Tim 1:18-20; 3:6f; 2Tim 3:26; 1John 3:8; 1Peter 5:8; Jude 4; Rev 2:9,13; 3:9; 9:14-19; 12:9.
1Chron 21:1-8; Matt 16:22f; Acts 5:1-3; 1Cor 3:1-4; 7:5; 2Cor 2:5-11; 11:13-15; 12:7; Eph 4:26f; 6:10-12; 1Thes 2:2-18; 1Tim 5:15; James 3:14-16; Rev 2:12-14; 18:2,24.
Limited by God:
1Kings 22:20-38; Ps 78:49; Dan 10:13,20; Luke 4:31-36; 10:17-19; 1Cor 5:1-5; 1Tim 1:19f; Jam 4:7.
Note: A total of ten sections on Satan and Demons are presented.
The Sovereignty of God
Scripture Study #21
The sovereignty of God refers to “God’s rule and authority over all things” (Erickson, Concise, p. 157). On this general point all evangelical Christians are in agreement.
However, there are three professedly Christian viewpoints regarding the exact nature of God’s sovereignty in relationship to the human will (or volition, i.e., our individual, personal choices in life):
Calvinism:God can and does control the human will. As such, God is absolute Lord over human history in general and individual destinies.
Arminianism:God could control the human will but chooses not to do so. God is Lord over human history in general, but the destiny of any particular person is determined by the exercise of that person’s own “free will.”
Pelagianism, Process Theology:God is incapable of controlling the human will. As such, He is not Lord over human history or over personal destinies. Human “free-will” or “chance” are the ultimate determinate factors. But God is doing the best He can to bring about good in the world. The author of this book agrees with the Calvinist position and believes the following passages support this view. These verses also demonstrate God’s absolute sovereignty in other areas. Studying these verses will help the reader to decide if this is the Biblical position. Whatever position is taken, one thing should become clear—the concept of the sovereignty of God pervades the Scriptures.
The Sovereignty of God in the Old Testament
In the Life of Joseph:
Genesis37:5-11 (cp. 42:6-9; 43:26-28); 37:18-28,36; 39:1-5,20-23; 41:25-32; 42:28; 43:14; 45:4-8; 50:18-20; Ps 105:16f.
In the Exodus:
Exodus3:21; 4:21; 6:1-8; 7:3-5,19-21; 8:6-24,31; 9:1-6,12,22-29; 10:12-15,19-23,27; 11:3-9; 12:29f,35f,40f (cp. Gen 15:13f); 13:19 (cp. Gen 50:24f); 14:4-8,15-31; 15:1-21.
Elsewhere in the Torah:
Genesis 20:1-6; 30:27; 31:1-16,42; 35:5 (cp. 34:30); 38:7-10.
Exodus 4:11; 21:12f; 23:27; 31:3-6; 34:23f; 35:30-36:2.
Numbers 5:21; 11:31; 23:19; 26:3-45.
Deuteronomy 2:24-36 (cp. Numb 21:21-24); 3:1-3,18-22; 4:34; 8:18; 9:3; 11:25 (cp. Josh 6:1); 12:10; 20:1-4 (cp. Exod 17:8-11); 28:1-68; 29:2-4; 32:39.
[Hundreds of additional verses from the rest of the Bible on the sovereignty of God are listed in the study.]
Mary, the Mother of Jesus
Scripture Study #26The previous study addressed various differences between Catholicism and Evangelical Protestantism. This study will look at one specific area of difference, the attitudes and teachings about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Note that Catholics generally capitalize tittles for Mary, including capitalizing the word “mother” (i.e., Mary, Mother of Jesus), but Protestants normally only capitalize her actual name (i.e. Mary, mother of Jesus). This Study follows these conventions for each viewpoint.
General Attitude toward Mary
Catholic Viewpoint:Mary is to be venerated and can be invoked to pray for us to God.
Protestant Viewpoint:Mary is to be honored for being faithful to the Lord, but she should not be venerated and cannot be invoked to pray for us.
Matthew 1:18:Of all the women in Israel, Mary was chosen to be the Mother of Jesus. Since God so highly honored Mary, so should we.
BUT:Yes it was a great honor for Mary to be chosen to be the mother of the Lord. But this was due to pure grace on God’s part, not due to anything special about Mary.
Luke 1:28:Mary is declared by the angel to be “full of grace” that “the Lord is with” her and to be “blessed among women.” These accolades show how very special she is. They are also examples of praise being given to Mary.
BUT:The translation “full of grace” is questionable. Most Protestant versions say something like “highly favored.” The ALT renders it as, “having been bestowed grace” with the alternative translation of “having been shown kindness.” Either way, the “grace” or the “kindness” is something that is shown to Mary. The verse is not teaching she is inherently endowed with some kind of special grace. This can be seen in that the only other time the Greek word used here occurs is in Ephesians 1:6, where all believers are said to have grace bestowed upon us.
On the second phrase, the Lord is with all believers (Heb 13:5f), so that is nothing special in regards to Mary.
On the third phrase, Mary is “blessed” that is true, but so are all believers (Eph 1:3). Moreover, in the OT, Jael is said to be blessed above women (Judg 5:24), so there is nothing special about Mary being said to be blessed among women.
Finally, given that none of these statements declare anything special about Mary herself, they are in no sense praise being given to her. If anything, they are praise to God for His grace in choosing Mary.
In this passage, Mary must have been told about the lack of wine. She then relayed this problem to Jesus, and Jesus responded to her request. This sets the pattern for us to invoke Mary with our concerns, and she in turn presents our requests to Jesus, who will respond because it is His Mother pleading for us.
There is a gigantic difference between what happened then and invoking Mary today. Mary was alive at the time, so those who apparently initially spoke to her knew she heard them as they were talking face-to-face. But Mary is now dead, and her spirit is in heaven. There is no way we can know she can hear us. In fact, it makes no sense that she could. Mary is not omniscient, so she cannot possibly hear and understand millions of people invoking her at the same time. And see on Matthew 12:46-50 in the following Protestant verses.
Romans 15:30; Col 4:3; 1Thes 5:25; 2Thes 3:1; Heb 13:8:
There are many examples in Scripture of Paul asking for people to pray for him. This is the same as invoking Mary to pray for us.
It is not the same! When Paul wrote to the Romans asking that they pray for him, he knew the Romans could read his epistle and respond accordingly as they were alive at the time. But again, Mary is now dead, not alive. There is no promise in Scripture that she can hear and understand our requests.
Revelation 5:8; 8:3f:
In these verses, the twenty-four elders and an angel present our prayers to God. This is similar to Mary presenting our prayers to God.
This is highly symbolic language. It cannot be taken as literally how God hears our prayers. Moreover, the verses do not say that the twenty-four elders or angel were invoked by living people to present these prayers. Plus, Mary is not mentioned.
The “woman” in this passage is clearly Mary as she gives birth to “a Son, a Male, who is about to be shepherding [or, ruling] all the nations with an iron staff” (v.4). In the first verse, Mary is presented in all of her glory, as the Queen of Heaven. Since she is so honored with such a glorious description, we should so honor her too.
The “woman” is not Mary but is symbolic of the Jewish nation. This first can be seen in verse one where the “twelve stars” most likely symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel. Then in verse six the “woman” is said to have “fled into the wilderness.” This Mary never did, but the Jews fled into the wilderness in the sense of being scattered from their homeland.
Moreover, verse 17 refers to “the rest of her seed [fig., offspring].” Since Catholics believe Mary did not have any more children after Jesus (see “Perpetual Virginity” lager in this Study), then on their own theology, the “woman” cannot be Mary. In Protestant theology, Mary did have additional children, but there is no indication they were persecution in such a manner as described here. However, the Jewish people have been so persecuted.
In this passage, Mary and Jesus’ half-brothers attempt to talk to Him, but Jesus refuses their request. Thus the Catholic claims about John 2:1-5 that Jesus will listen to and respond to Mary because she is His mother is not necessarily true. Moreover, note that Jesus does not in any way praise Mary. Instead, he places her on the same level as “whoever does the will of My Father” (v.50). For this she is to be honored, but no more than anyone else who does so.
A woman praises Mary. If such praise was warranted, this would have been the place for Jesus to encourage it. But instead, Jesus rebukes the woman and declares that anyone “hearing the word of God and keeping it” is “fortunate.” This was true of Mary, but also of many other people throughout history.
This verse is the last mention of Mary by name in the NT. If she were such an important figure, you would think there would be some mention in Scripture as to what happened to her after this point.
Paul writes that Jesus was “born of a woman.” This is the only time Paul ever refers to Mary, and even here he doesn’t even use her name. Again, if Mary were such an important figure you would think she would have figured more prominently in Paul’s epistles.
[The remainder of this study consists of first evaluating Catholic dogmas about Mary, namely her supposed Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity, and Bodily Assumption into heaven. Then it looks at various titles that Catholic ascribe to Mary, like Queen of Heaven and Mother of God.]
Scripture Study #27“The charismata” are spiritual gifts given to Christians. The term comes from the Greek word for “gifts.” Some of these gifts are seemingly “natural” such as teaching or leadership, while others are more supernatural or miraculous in their nature. In regards to these latter types of charismata there is a difference of opinion as to whether they were just for the Apostolic Age or if they are still operating today.
Opinions also vary as to the exact nature of each gift. And how one defines each gift will affect one’s opinion on if it is still operating today. As such, this study will look at each gift in turn and first define it before asking if it still operates today.
Those whose believe the miraculous charismata were mainly for the Apostolic Age will be referred to as traditionalists, while those who believe they are still operating today are called “charismatics.” Some general views of charismatics will also be addressed in this study. The charismatic view will be presented first, with rebuttals from traditionalists following as appropriate. This writer’s viewpoint will be given as a conclusion at the end of the discussion for each gift.
Lists of the Charismata
Three lists of the charismata are given in Scripture. Duplicates and related gifts will be addressed together.
Word of wisdom
Word of knowledge
Divine workings of miraculous works
Discernment of spirits
Interpretation [or, translation] of tongues
Leaders [or, administrators]
Shepherds [or, pastors] and teachers
Word of Wisdom/ Word of KnowledgeThese two gifts will be addressed first as they seem to be related. “Wisdom” is defined as: “the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.”
“Knowledge” is defined as: “acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition….the fact or state of knowing; the perception of fact or truth; clear and certain mental apprehension” (Dictionary.com).
Basically, “knowledge” is the knowing of facts, while wisdom is the application of those facts. But such wisdom and knowledge is generally attained by the normal means of study and experience. The “gift” seems to be that God grants people knowledge they would not know otherwise or He grants people the discernment to use the facts they know in an appropriate manner.
Possible Biblical examples of or references to the gifts of knowledge or wisdom would be the following:
Matthew 10:16-20:Here Jesus promises the gift of the word wisdom to those undergoing persecution as to how to respond to them.
BUT:Possibly true, but the miraculously given wisdom is just for that specific situation of dealing with persecution.
John 1:48:Jesus knew that Nathaniel had been sitting under a fig tree before his brother called him to come meet Jesus, an example of the gift of the word of knowledge.
Jesus tells a woman He has just met that she has been married four times and is currently living with a man she is not married to, another example of the gift of the word of knowledge.
BUT:Both of these examples are of Jesus. As such, they are examples of His omniscience as God in the flesh and not of any spiritual gift given to believers.
Acts 5:1-10:Ananias and Sapphira had apparently promised to donate the full proceeds of the sale of their house to the Church. But they lied about how much it was sold for and kept back some of the money. Peter knew about the deception via the gift of the word of knowledge.
Acts 6:3,10:The first deacons chosen to serve in the Church were to be “full of wisdom.” Stephen then demonstrated the use of this gift of wisdom in his sermon (7:1-53). Stephen’s knowledge of the OT was probably natural, from his study of them. But the God-given gift of wisdom enabled him to apply this knowledge to his listeners’ situation as Stephen obviously did not have time to prepare a sermon. His sermon was so effective that his listeners “were cut through to their hearts” (7:54).
BUT:These two passages probably are examples of the gift of knowledge and of wisdom, respectively. But this was an apostle and a direct apostolic delegate. They do not prove such gifts still operate today.
James 1:5; 3:17:James tells us to pray for wisdom. He then gives the characteristics of this “wisdom from above.”
BUT:There is no indication the wisdom here is the specific gift of the “word of wisdom.” But James’ description is a good way to test if someone’s claimed spiritual wisdom is really from God.
2Peter 3:15:Paul exercised the gift of the word of wisdom in his writings.
BUT:Paul was writing under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit. That is why his writings are “Scripture” (v.16). Everyone who claims to have the gift of the word of wisdom is not writing new Scripture.
Revelation 13:18; 17:9:The God-given gift of wisdom is necessary to correctly understand Biblical symbolism.
BUT:It is true we need the Holy Spirit’s leading in understanding Scripture, but this is not a special gift given to just some Christians.
Conclusion on Word of Wisdom/ Word of Knowledge:There is little direct information on these gifts, thus it is difficult to be dogmatic about the exact nature of them and if anyone possesses such gifts today.
[This evaluation of the charismata is divided into two parts as it took two chapters to fully cover all of the spiritual gifts.]
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